Connect with us

exercise science

Meal Frequency and Fat Loss

Published

on

It’s commonly believed that consuming small, frequent meals optimizes fat loss. According to theory, go without eating for more than a few hours and your body shifts into “starvation mode.” Part of the starvation response is to slow down metabolism in an effort to conserve energy. Pretty hard to get lean when your metabolic rate isn’t cooperating. Conceivably, providing your body with a constant stream of nutrients prevents the starvation response by “stoking the metabolic furnace,” thereby enhancing the ability to burn stubborn body fat.

Or so the theory goes…

 

The Research

Despite a seemingly logical basis, however, the evidence generally doesn’t support metabolic benefits of increased meal frequency. A study in dogs did show that consuming four small meals doubled the thermogenic response compared to eating an energy-equated amount of food as a large single meal.9 A follow-up study by the same group of researchers found similarly beneficial thermogenic effects in humans from a greater feeding frequency.10 On the other hand, a number of other tightly controlled human and animal trials have failed to show increases in metabolism as a result of spreading nutrient intake over multiple meals.5,7,13,18,19

While acute studies on metabolism provide interesting mechanistic insight into the body’s immediate response to different feeding frequencies, the only thing that really counts is whether a strategy of eating more frequently enhances fat loss. And the only way to determine actual fat loss is through randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that study this outcome directly.

My lab carried out a meta-analysis to gain greater clarity on the topic. We searched back to the early 1960s to find any and all RCTs that compared feeding frequencies of less than or equal to three meals a day with greater than three meals a day. Studies had to last a minimum of two weeks, involve healthy adult men and/or women, and equate the number of calories consumed between conditions. A total of 15 studies were determined to meet inclusion criteria. The results of these studies were then pooled for analysis to determine what, if any, effects on body composition can be attributed to how often you eat.

The results?

Feeding frequency had no effect on overall bodyweight. This seems in line with the findings of the acute studies mentioned earlier. Interestingly, however, our initial analysis did reveal a positive correlation between fat loss and the number of daily meals consumed. Here’s the rub: A sensitivity analysis found that these results were almost exclusively attributed to a single study6— the effects all but disappeared when this study was selectively removed from analysis. A positive association also was initially found between meal frequency and reductions in body fat percentage, but again these results were unduly biased by one study1 whose deletion rendered the results inconsequential.

Fat-loss Findings

So what can we glean from our research? Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t appear that eating small, frequent meals provides any meaningful benefits to fat loss. This was particularly apparent from the metabolic ward trials included in our analysis. As opposed to “free living” studies that allow subjects to self-report dietary habits (and thus have been shown to be quite unreliable), research carried out in a metabolic ward meticulously controls these variables; every morsel of food and every step of activity is carefully monitored by the investigators. Without exception, these studies showed no benefit to fat loss from higher meal frequencies.

Now a caveat to our meta-analysis is that we only included studies that matched caloric intake between feeding frequencies. This was necessary to rule out the potential for confounding from unequal energy consumption. However, some claim that the true benefit of an increased meal frequency is a better control over hunger, conceivably by regulating blood sugar and hormonal levels. If true, this in itself would promote a beneficial effect on fat loss given that weight management is basically a function of energy balance: take in more calories than you expend and you'll gain weight; create a caloric deficit and you'll lose weight.4 Thing is, research is conflicting on the topic. Although some studies have found that spacing out meals over the course of a day reduces hunger,14-17 others show no differences in satiety regardless of feeding frequency.3,12 Several studies have even found greater feelings of fullness from consuming three as opposed to six daily meals.11,13 Considering the body of literature as a whole, evidence remains weak that eating frequent meals helps to control hunger; any beneficial effects are likely specific to the individual.

Personal Preference

The take-home message here is that eating small, frequent meals appears to have little if any effect on reducing body fat. From this standpoint, meal frequency should therefore come down to personal preference: choose whatever frequency fits your lifestyle. Focus on what’s important to achieving fat loss: creating a negative energy balance and consuming adequate dietary protein.

Aside from fat loss, there is a compelling reason why feeding frequency may have important implications on body composition. Namely, the anabolic effects of a meal have been estimated to last approximately five to six hours based on the rate of postprandial amino acid metabolism.8 Given that you’ll generally spend at least 16 hours of the day awake, you thus need at least three protein feedings to maximize anabolism. Indeed, recent research indicates that spreading protein intake out over four daily servings increases muscle protein synthesis to a greater extent than consuming the same amount of protein in two larger servings.2 So eating a minimum of three daily meals spaced out no more than every five to six hours is a prudent strategy to promote lean muscle.

References:
1. Arciero, PJ, Ormsbee, MJ, Gentile, CL, Nindl, BC, Brestoff, JR, and Ruby, M. Increased protein intake and meal frequency reduces abdominal fat during energy balance and energy deficit. Obesity (Silver Spring) 21: 1357-1366, 2013.
2. Areta, JL, Burke, LM, Ross, ML, Camera, DM, West, DW, Broad, EM, Jeacocke, NA, Moore, DR, Stellingwerff, T, Phillips, SM, Hawley, JA, and Coffey, VG. Timing and distribution of protein ingestion during prolonged recovery from resistance exercise alters myofibrillar protein synthesis. J. Physiol. 591: 2319-2331, 2013.

3. Cameron, JD, Cyr, MJ, and Doucet, E. Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet. Br. J. Nutr. 103: 1098-1101, 2010.

4. Hall, KD, Heymsfield, SB, Kemnitz, JW, Klein, S, Schoeller, DA, and Speakman, JR. Energy balance and its components: implications for body weight regulation. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 95: 989-994, 2012.

5. Hill, JO, Anderson, JC, Lin, D, and Yakubu, F. Effects of meal frequency on energy utilization in rats. Am. J. Physiol. 255: R616-21, 1988.

6. Iwao, S, Mori, K, and Sato, Y. Effects of meal frequency on body composition during weight control in boxers. Scand. J. Med. Sci. Sports 6: 265-272, 1996.

7. Kinabo, JL, and Durnin, JV. Effect of meal frequency on the thermic effect of food in women. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 44: 389-395, 1990.

8. Layman, DK. Protein quantity and quality at levels above the RDA improves adult weight loss. J. Am. Coll. Nutr. 23: 631S-636S, 2004.

9. LeBlanc, J, and Diamond, P. Effect of meal size and frequency on postprandial thermogenesis in dogs. Am. J. Physiol. 250: E144-7, 1986.

10. LeBlanc, J, Mercier, I, and Nadeau, A. Components of postprandial thermogenesis in relation to meal frequency in humans. Can. J. Physiol. Pharmacol. 71: 879-883, 1993.

11. Leidy, HJ, Armstrong, CL, Tang, M, Mattes, RD, and Campbell, WW. The influence of higher protein intake and greater eating frequency on appetite control in overweight and obese men. Obesity (Silver Spring) 18: 1725-1732, 2010.

12. Leidy, HJ, Tang, M, Armstrong, CL, Martin, CB, and Campbell, WW. The effects of consuming frequent, higher protein meals on appetite and satiety during weight loss in overweight/obese men. Obesity (Silver Spring) 19: 818-824, 2011.

13. Ohkawara, K, Cornier, MA, Kohrt, WM, and Melanson, EL. Effects of increased meal frequency on fat oxidation and perceived hunger. Obesity (Silver Spring) 21: 336-343, 2013.

14. Smeets, AJ, and Westerterp-Plantenga, MS. Acute effects on metabolism and appetite profile of one meal difference in the lower range of meal frequency. Br. J. Nutr. 99: 1316-1321, 2008.

15. Speechly, DP, and Buffenstein, R. Greater appetite control associated with an increased frequency of eating in lean males. Appetite 33: 285-297, 1999.

16. Speechly, DP, Rogers, GG, and Buffenstein, R. Acute appetite reduction associated with an increased frequency of eating in obese males. Int. J. Obes. Relat. Metab. Disord. 23: 1151-1159, 1999.

17. Stote, KS, Baer, DJ, Spears, K, Paul, DR, Harris, GK, Rumpler, WV, Strycula, P, Najjar, SS, Ferrucci, L, Ingram, DK, Longo, DL, and Mattson, MP. A controlled trial of reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction in healthy, normal-weight, middle-aged adults. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 85: 981-988, 2007.

18. Taylor, MA, and Garrow, JS. Compared with nibbling, neither gorging nor a morning fast affect short-term energy balance in obese patients in a chamber calorimeter. Int. J. Obes. Relat. Metab. Disord. 25: 519-528, 2001.

19. Verboeket-van de Venne, WP, and Westerterp, KR. Influence of the feeding frequency on nutrient utilization in man: consequences for energy metabolism. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 45: 161-169, 1991.

The post Meal Frequency and Fat Loss appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.

Have you tried this NEW workout plan that everyone is talking about?

Unlock Your Hip Flexors

exercise science

Janet Layug, Ms. Bikini Olympia 2020

Published

on

https://youtu.be/FioHTEqdPE8

In this week’s episode, the ladies – Emma Hyndman, The Posing Pro and Lauren Lotter, Bikini amateur – talk to IFBB Bikini Pro Janet Layug. Janet is the reigning Ms. Bikini Olympia 2020, and in Season 2, Episode 2 we talk to Janet about her journey and what it means to never give up on your dreams. We hope this episode helps to inspire some of the new Bikini competitors joining the IFBB League and also helps to inspire and motivate some of the more experienced competitors too. Also, Janet is promoting an NPC and Pro IFBB show and for more information on how you can compete in Janet's NPC Battle of The Bodies on 31st July 2021 in Florida please visit: https://www.janetsbattleofthebodies.com/

Follow Janet on Instagram @janetlayug and check out her Ms. Olympia journey.

The post Janet Layug, Ms. Bikini Olympia 2020 first appeared on FitnessRX for Women.

Have you tried this NEW workout plan that everyone is talking about?

Try Bikini Body Workouts

Continue Reading

choosing a fitness professional

Choosing a Fitness Professional: Finding the Right One for You

Published

on

In an industry that is constantly evolving, the world of fitness is never boring. As a fitness professional, I get a lot of questions about what I do and why I do it. Each question, although relatively complex, has a simple answer.

I chose my profession because I love to motivate, converse, educate, and be enthusiastic around other people. My passion made college classes and clinical research thrilling. I also wholeheartedly believe that a healthy lifestyle extends positively to all aspects of an individual’s life, as well as their family, friends, and coworkers. The human body is miraculous and deserves to be treated so.

The incidence and severity of disease can be decreased through regular physical activity (insert flashing neon arrows). Even so, large populations of individuals still do not have the knowledge to maintain an active lifestyle for themselves or their families as preventative action. It is my career goal to educate those individuals who might not know where to begin or how to progress, or have diminished hope, through behavioral-change goals. However, in an industry that also has many non-credible sources and educators, it is important to be able to separate the two.

Below are some of the regularly asked questions within our field and their answers to help you in choosing a fitness professional who best fits into your plan.

What Is a Fitness Professional?

The best definition of a fitness professional comes from the American College of Sports Medicine:

“A Health Fitness Professional has a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. The individual performs pre-participation health screenings, conducts physical fitness assessments, interprets results, develops exercise prescriptions, and applies behavioral and motivational strategies to apparently healthy individuals and individuals with medically controlled diseases and health conditions to support clients in adopting and maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviors. Academic preparation also can include fitness management, administration, and supervision.” (2015)

How Do You Become a Fitness Professional?

To become a fitness professional an individual must obtain a four-year degree or a graduate degree in Exercise Science, Kinesiology, Health Studies or in a health and fitness–related field. After graduating, an exam is taken through a certifying body, such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) or the National Academy for Sports Medicine (NASM). Some of the most common exams include the Certified Exercise Physiologist (formerly Health Fitness Specialist) and the Certified Personal Trainer. If an individual is in a cardiac rehab environment and obtains 400/500 hours of clinical exercise programming, the professional can then apply to take a clinical-level exam.

How Do Fitness Professionals Stay Up-to-Date?

ACSM is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world, and they continue to set the standards in the fitness industry. ACSM requires a minimum number of CECs (continuing education credits) and CEUs (continuing education units) in a three-year period to maintain certification.

NASM, a leader in providing technology-based education and certification solutions, also offers CEUs alongside specialization exams.

Alongside CECs, CEUs, and specialization exams, individuals can subscribe to additional research publications and continue to take certifying exams. Attending conferences, taking graduate classes in the field, and meeting other individuals in the industry is also a great way to network and learn from peers.

How Do I Choose a Fitness Professional That Is Right for Me?

Today, many individuals market themselves as trainers or nutritionists. When choosing an individual to work with, ask about their education and background, how many clients they have worked with, and their specializations. Working directly with an individual is similar to hiring for a job; don’t be afraid to ask for their resume or references! An individual who is qualified should happily comply.

It is also important to remember that a fitness professional is not a Registered Dietitian (RD). According to ethical guidelines, a fitness professional can discuss and provide insight into healthy alternatives but can’t develop meal plans or suggest drastic diet changes. For in-depth nutrition advice, a fitness professional should always refer to an RD. Fitness and nutrition go hand in hand, but knowing scope of practice is important.

At NIFS, we pride ourselves on providing the most well-rounded professionals for every health and wellness need. For more information on what qualifications a fitness professional should have, check out the following resources.

“Exercise is really important to me—it’s therapeutic.” —Michelle Obama

This blog was written by Ellyn Grant, Healthy Lifestyle Coordinator. To read more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Continue Reading

Exercise Programs

The Long Game

Published

on

We’ve all seen the marketing tactics of fitness gimmicks showing how to get “shredded” or “6-pack abs” in 30 days. The before and after pictures may be convincing, but often these images are fabricated and fake. These “fitness programs” are scams that abuse the general public’s ignorance on the subject of health and fitness, despite countless studies that have proven that fitness isn’t an “overnight” sensation.

Carl Foster, an exercise physiologist at the University of Wisconsin, decided to run a study to determine if any results were actually measurable in a six week fitness program.

The plan was to photograph and measure volunteers between the ages of 18 – 40 wearing skimpy bathing suits and then randomly assign them to one of three groups: cardiovascular exercise, weight lifting or control. Six weeks later, they would be photographed and measured again.

Results were not surprising. Objective measurements, like weight and percentage of body fat, waist size and the size of the bicep or thigh, did not change.

Clearly , the promises of these fitness gimmicks are for marketing purposes and not in the best interest of the client.

The only way to fight back against these tactics is by educating your clients and potential clients about their own fitness journey towards their unique goals.

Continue Reading

Trending